Action of 1747-10-06
Notes on Action
On October 6th, 1747, the " Royal Family," so called because all the ships composing it were named after members of the reigning house, were standing out of Lagos Bay when a large ship was sighted coming in towards Cape St. Vincent. They immediately gave chase; and the stranger bore away to the westward, being, like the British ships, in some doubt as to the enemy's force. She was, in fact, the [HCMS Glorioso (1740)|Glorioso], a Spanish 74, which had previously landed at Ferrol about three millions of treasure from the Spanish Main, and was then bound to Cadiz.
It was now for Walker to try his hand. He believed that there was treasure still on board; but when, at about noon on the 6th, he overhauled the chase, his frigate, the [HBMP King George|King George], 32, was alone. It had fallen flat calm, and the rest of the "Royal Family" had not been able to get up, so that the [HBMP King George|King George] and the [HCMS Glorioso (1740)|Glorioso] lay looking at one another, each uncertain as to what the other was. In the evening a breeze arose, and the [HCMS Glorioso (1740)|Glorioso] headed inshore, followed by the privateer which, on closing, hailed for information. The Spaniard answered with a cross-question, and, on finding that the ship alongside was British, poured in a broadside, which was returned at once; and the ships ran slowly in to the land, engaged yard-arm to yard-arm. There have been instances enough of frigates attacking ships of the line; the capture of the Guillaume Tell in 1800 was directly due to the embarrassing attentions of the Penelope; and no small share of Edward Pellew's great name is due to the manner in which, in the Indefatigable, 44, he hung on to the Droits de I'Homme in a gale of wind on a lee shore, till he left her a hopeless wreck. But this is the only instance in which a frigate, in a smooth sea and fine weather, voluntarily placed herself, yard-arm to yard-arm, with a ship of the line; and not the least wonder of it is that the frigate was only a privateer. Fortunately for the [HBMP King George|King George], many of the enemy's shot either went over her or took effect in her spars; yet, in spite of that, after some hours her position began to be critical. On one of her consorts, the [HBMS Prince Frederick (1740)|Prince Frederick (70)], coming up, however, the [HCMS Glorioso (1740)|Glorioso] took to flight. On the morning of the 7th, the [HBMP King George|King George] was too disabled to pursue, and the [HBMS Prince Frederick (1740)|Prince Frederick (70)], with two other ships of the squadron, was making sail after the chase when a large vessel was seen coming up from the eastward. She was made out to be British, and Walker at once sent to explain the situation to her captain. She was the [HBMS Russell (1735)|Russell], 80, Captain [Matthew Buckle ], homeward bound from the Mediterranean, but with only half a crew on board; and, even of these, some were sick. As the [HBMS Russell (1735)|Russell] crowded sail in pursuit the chase was seen to be sharply engaged with some vessel unknown which presently blew up. It was thought at first that she was the [HBMS Prince Frederick (1740)|Prince Frederick (70)], but she was in reality the [HBMS Dartmouth (1741)|Dartmouth], 50, Captain [James Hamilton], which had been drawn to the scene of action by the firinfg of the previous night. Out of her crew of three hundred only fourteen, including a lieutenant, were saved. Shortly afterwards the [HBMS Russell (1735)|Russell] in her turn came up, and began a hot action which lasted for five hours, at the end of which time the enemy's main-top mast went overboard and she struck. So short-handed was the [HBMS Russell (1735)|Russell] that the number of the prisoners was a serious embarrassment, and many of them had to be sent away in the privateers.